Beijing: The Yuan Wang 5, China’s missile and satellite tracking ship which had berthed at Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, departed on Monday, media reports said citing the Harbour Master.

Sri Lankan media portal, News First reported the information. The Chinese research ship last week arrived and docked at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port. Notably, the vessel is capable of tracking satellites and intercontinental missiles and considered a spy ship.

There were grave concerns that the ship could conduct satellite research in the north-western part of the Indian Ocean region, prompting security concerns from India. China on Tuesday said that the docking of its Yuan Wang 5 ship at Hambantota port in Sri Lanka does not affect any country and termed at as normal exchange between the two countries.

Commenting on the Chinese spy vessel Yuan Wang-5 docking in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that any developments which have a bearing on India’s security are “obviously of an interest to us”.

“What happens in our neighbourhood, any developments which have a bearing on our security obviously are of an interest to us,” Jaishankar said at a Joint Press Conference after the 9th India-Thailand Joint Commission Meeting and MoU signing ceremony.

India had expressed its security concerns over the docking of the vessel at the Sri Lankan port as it was shown as a research vessel with the capability of mapping the ocean bed, which is critical to the antisubmarine operations of the Chinese Navy.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Minister confirmed that the Chinese vessel ‘Yuan Wang-5’, widely believed to be a spy ship, has been given clearance to arrive at Hambantota Port on August 16.

“Having considered all material in place, on 13 August 2022, the clearance to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China was conveyed for the deferred arrival of the vessel from 16-22 August 2022,” Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

Giving details about the process, the foreign affairs ministry said that they were informed by China via a diplomatic note on June 28 regarding Yuan Wang 5 arrival.

The Sri Lankan government was requested to provide necessary assistance and positive consideration to the request by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China.

“On 12 August 2022 the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China informed the Ministry via Diplomatic Note that the vessel Yuan Wang-5 was scheduled to arrive in the port of Hambantota on 16 August 2022 and applied for clearance for replenishment purposes for the new dates 16 to 22 August 2022,” the statement reads.

Hambantota Port, located around 250 km from Colombo was built with high-interest Chinese loans. The Sri Lankan government struggled to repay the debt they had taken from China following which the port was handed over to the Chinese on a 99-year lease.

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